The Day Elvis Died…

Elvis Presley Jailhouse Rock I have seen several people my age and older reminiscing about what they were doing on the day that Elvis died. If you were alive then, and you were at an age where you knew who Elvis was, it’s one of those days you don’t forget, like the Challenger blowing up, or September 11, 2001.

On August 16, 1977, I was nine and I had a couple of cousins over at my house for a birthday celebration. It was summer, and school didn’t start then as early as it does not, so we were home. My cousins Angela and Andrea only lived about twenty minutes away, and they would often come to my house since I lived with our grandmother.

They came over on the 15th and were staying until the next night. We had all day on the 16th to play. Sometime that afternoon, the news outlets took over all the television channels – I think we had three or four then – and wouldn’t stop talking about Elvis being found dead.

Were you old enough to remember, or even care? That was all that was on television that afternoon. Nothing fun. I think there used to be cartoons late afternoon and I remember being upset that they didn’t come on. I know I wouldn’t have cared about missing a soap opera, which was the other thing on television during the day.

I was thinking about that today when a friend posted about Elvis on Facebook, and I remembered that Lee and Elizabeth have a short conversation about Elvis in the book Under His Protection. They are dancing at a fundraiser for her campaign for attorney general.

After she (Elizabeth) had caught up with everyone she knew, Lee pulled her onto the dance floor as the band played “Love Me Tender.”

“I didn’t know it was Elvis night,” Lee said with a grin. He held her close and managed the turns on the crowded floor easily. She loved the way that he held her and she thrilled to his power as he spun her in his arms. “Nothing like the King to get a girl close,” he said, leaning closer so that his breath tickled her neck.

“Here’s something you didn’t know. I was raised on Elvis. In fact, I was born the week that he died. My mother bawled all week. My father swore that his death sent her into early labor. In fact, for years after he died, she claimed he was still alive somewhere in Michigan.”

“She and half of the Southern women her age.” He chuckled and spun her again. When the dance ended, Lee gestured toward a couple by the door. “There’s my brother. Come meet Fox and Laura.”

Do you remember the day Elvis died? Where were you? Did it mark a big turning point for you? I would love to hear from you in the comments. Back then, did you believe Elvis faked his death?

 Read more about Lee and Elizabeth in Under His Protection, which can be found in the Kindle Unlimited Program at Amazon.

 

Editing is a Labor… of Love

Editing_2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I tweeted the picture above last week, and a ton of people liked it, and I even had a few questions about it, so I thought I would give a description here of what the flags mean.

I’m hot and heavy in the middle of editing this novel, and I’ve developed a new system using colored flags.

I write with a combination of a “pantser” and a plotter method. I know where I’m going, but my characters tell me how to get there. There are often changes along the way that I have to track backwards. As I write the first draft, I keep a notebook listing the changes that need to happen, or how I think things should change as I go forward. I don’t always make the changes right away, but as I do, I mark through them. (physically marking them off gives me a sense of accomplishment)

Once of the things that i have noticed is that if I edit on screen, particularly toward the end of the editing process, there is no way to check whether the changes were made correctly. This draft is 320 pages 1.5 -spaced, right now coming in at 111k words. It is the longest I have done by far. There is no way that I could re-read the whole thing constantly. It would take forever.

I print it out at 1.5 line spacing. (2 is just too much for me and way too long) I handwrite all of the changes that I make, and I flag the page. Yellow is a minor change (maybe a comma was dropped, or a word is missing, not more than one or two on the page. I ran out of yellow so I also used green for that.

Red is a major change/rewrite. A red flag means that I either added additional text (handwritten behind the typed page) or I deleted massive text, or reworked sentences to the point that the page needs serious work. At this stage, red happens when I have to backtrack and make the changes consistent (as noticed above) or I feel like the scene needs more development. One improvement to my writing in the past three years that I have noticed is that my scenes are longer and fuller.

Blue means it’s something that needs more thought. For example, did a character’s dad die of a heart attack or cancer? I was toying with both and wasn’t sure which I wanted. So I flagged it with blue to come back to it. It was in the past, so just briefly referenced, but it became an issue as to whether it was a quick sudden death or drawn-out illness. I had to make sure and change it everywhere. I also use blue when my editor makes suggestions and I either haven’t decided whether to make her change, or her change would take to long to address at that moment.

I reuse all the flags as I pull them off. After I make all the changes, I reprint it and go back and re-read everything that I changed and compare it to the draft that I marked up. Often a red flag goes to yellow for the first cut because I rarely get edits right the first time. (For example, I may change a word and then when I reprint it, notice that I used the exact same phrase or word a little higher on the page, which means I have to change something.)

This is the first book that I have been so diligent about edits, and I have a greater confidence that i won’t miss something crucial this time. I still may—and my husband is my final proof-reader when he has the time–but with the flags at least I know what I have ahead. When I look at the front part of the printout and see very few red flags, and just a smattering of yellow, then I feel like that’s progress. That’s progress. There is actually something soothing about handwriting additions. It helps keep me in the zone.

When I do spellcheck/grammar check, I do it with track changes in Word and then I print out the file with the track changes. That part of it is still a little bit cumbersome, but I still try to have something that I can check it against.

Editing is exhausting, but it’s fulfilling because I can see it come alive and how all of the pieces fit together. I add pieces all along the way to flesh out characters better and issues.
With my next book I will try fewer iterations, which means I need to spend more time adding sensory and character detail into the first draft. That’s usually something I focus on in the second draft.

Since I took this picture, I decided to put all the yellow flags at the top of the page on the right, all the blue in the middle, and all the red at the bottom. It’s easier to see where I am that way. Now if I only had time to finish the edits. My deadline is calling.

Do you have a particular quirk about how you edit your novel once you have a first draft? I have had several writers tell me that they send their first or second draft to their editor and move on, and that idea gives me the shakes.

Virginia Woolf – Trending on Twitter?

Yesterday I noticed that Virginia Woolf (d. 1941), one of the foremost modernists in English literature, was trending on twitter. What on earth? I was surprised, since I had not heard of a new movie or book coming out about her. It turns out a new audio recording was found of her voice, which kicked off an avalanche of twitter love. Yesterday was also her birthday.

Here is a link to the recording on the BBC: BBC Audio Recording by Virginia Woolf. I love British accents, but other than that, it doesn’t do much for me.

The Indigo Girls wrote a song, “Virginia Woolf” in 1992, as part of the album Rites of Passage. I love this album. 1992 was prime music time for me. I was 24, single, and had all the time in the world to become a writer. Unfortunately, after a disastrous year in the Purdue MFA program in Creative Writing, I was mentally blocked.

Even then, this song spoke to me. Part of the words are below:

They published your diary
And that’s how I got to know you
The key to the room of your own
And a mind without end

And here’s a young girl
On a kind of a telephone line through time
And the voice at the other end
Comes like a long lost friend

So I know I’m alright
Life will come and life will go
Still I feel it’s alright
‘Cause I just got a letter to my soul

And when my whole life is on the tip of my tongue
Empty pages for the no longer young
The apathy of time laughs in my face
You say “Each life has it’s place”

The hatches were battened
The thunder clouds rolled and the critics stormed
The battle surrounded the white flag of your youth
If you need to know that you weathered the storm
Of cruel mortality
A hundred years later I’m sittin’ here living proof

Read more: Indigo Girls – Virginia Woolf Lyrics | MetroLyrics

If you want to watch the video, here is the link:


On one of the Indigo Girls’ live albums, Emily Saliers talks about how her mother sent her a copy of Virginia Woolf’s diary, and that’s how she wrote the song. Emily is a prolific songwriter, and I can imagine that connection. I’ve felt it before from writers who are long gone.

There are so many books published now: ebooks ranging in length from short stories to long tomes, traditionally published books with small print runs giving service to what the New York editors deem is literature these days, and then the blockbuster novels that basically fund the big New York houses. Books can go viral in a heartbeat if they trigger emotion in enough people. Am I that good? I’d like to be. I’m not there yet, but with every book I refine my craft.

Now, Virginia Woolf is not only reaching out to people through her diaries, she is also trending on Twitter. Her story is sad in so many ways, especially considering her battle with mental illness and eventual suicide. She has been an inspiration to many, and yesterday Twitter stood up and paid attention. You go, Virginia.

And how am I doing? Editing the final book in City Lights, Winner Takes All, in a frenzy. Soon, baby soon. This will wind everything up. By the time I get edits back from the editor, I’m thinking early March. Hopefully I will have a pre-order link up soon.

 

Producing an Audiobook

I recently decided to have my first book, No Strings Attached, recorded as an audiobook through ACX, a subsidiary of Amazon. There are several options when you are thinking about audiobooks: read and produce the book yourself, hire a narrator / producer at a flat rate, usually an hourly rate, or offer the book for a royalty share.

Doing the production myself was not an option. I don’t have a “radio voice”, and I don’t have recording equipment. My understanding is that ACX has high-quality standards, and I would want my audiobook to be of the highest quality. Clearly, doing it myself was not an option.

The first step of the project is to input information about your book into ACX. They pull in reviews and other data on sales ranking, etc. from Amazon. You tell them how many words the book is, and they estimate the recorded time. I was skeptical that they would be close, but they estimated my book at 8.2 hours, and the full recorded time was just under 8. So they were pretty close. Sometimes if your project catches Amazon’s eye, they will offer a stipend on top of the royalty share, which is what they did for my friend’s book.

I first listed the book over a year ago, but I had no auditions. Zero. I offered a royalty share only, and couldn’t get anyone to audition. Keep in mind that I was asking them to commit a minimum of 24 hours, including editing and everything else. ACX told me the listing had been dormant for too long and they made it inactive. So I decided to wait a while.

My friend was having success, so I talked to her about the fact that no one had auditioned. She suggested I contact her narrator and ask him what rate he would charge. With x being the hourly rate I thought I could afford for 8 finished hours, he offered 4x. I had email exchanges with him, but I couldn’t afford his rate. I said I would be in touch after Christmas.

Meanwhile, I was talking to another author that I met online who does audio narrations by the name of Brian Schell. We started discussions, and he also said he would do it for 4x per hour. I told him I couldn’t afford it right now, but would be happy to talk to him later. He said he was interested in the project and submitted an audition anyway. Within the same week, a female narrator submitted an audition for my book based on the offer of royalty share only. I couldn’t leave her hanging, so I had to make a decision.

Most auditions last about five minutes. I listened to her reading and it just didn’t do much for me. Her phrasing felt odd and I just couldn’t relax into the reading. There was a section where I could hear her fumbling with something, and that undercut her professionalism.

I listened to Brian’s reading, and I was hooked. My book is told from Fox and Laura’s point of view, and Fox’s narration has a certain sarcastic feel to it, a certain dry wit. He captured that immediately. He was also able to differentiate between multiple voices in the dialog sections. I felt like he brought my words to life.

We discussed it, and he agreed to take the risk. I offered x for the 8 hours plus royalty share to start immediately, and we reached an agreement. I couldn’t hold back my excitement. Brian was going to bring my words to life!No Strings Attached Audiobook 2400x2400

When I received notification that he had uploaded my finished audiobook, I couldn’t wait. I downloaded it and listened over a Friday and Saturday. It was like Fox talking in my ear. Brian also reminded me that I had to reformat my cover (it had to be square) and offered to do that for me.

I chose to listen to the words without matching it to the text unless it came across confusing or I had a question. There were only a few places where I submitted minor changes to him. Now the book is live, and ready for listeners.

That, in a nutshell, is how audiobooks are made. Are you a audiobook fan? Do you have an Audible subscription? Download the sample and give it a listen. Here is the link to Audible.com. If you like the sample, I would be honored if you choose it as your selection this month. listen. Or, if you’ve been thinking about starting an audiobook subscription but haven’t taken the plunge, you can start your subscription and receive my audiobook for free. You can find details here.

I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about producing an audiobook. Ask them in the comments.

What’s in a Blurb? Meet Carol – She knows!

I recently ran across Carol Ann Eastman, who writes as Angelisa Stone, on a Facebook group for authors, and it turns out she offers a blurb-writing service. Since I have struggled with writing catchy blurbs, I decided to give her a try.

Before I reveal the results of her magic (and I DO mean magic), Carol Ann, tell me how you got started offering this service for writers.

Fellow author, Christine Zolendz and I quickly became “author besties.”  We actually wrote a laugh-your-ass-off chick-lit book together.  It’s basically Thelma & Louise meets Bridesmaids.  It’s called #TripleX.  If you are annoyed by your husband, want to throttle your kids, and puke a little in your mouth when you see your naked body in the mirror as you chomp down on M&Ms, then #TripleX is the humorous story for you.

But anyway, while we spent the year working on the book together, Christine discovered that BLURBS were my forte.  She basically FORCED me into doing this.  She got my name out there in her writing groups and then BAM!  My email starts filling up with people who want help with their blurbs.  I am THRILLED and totally indebted to my lifelong writing friend, Christine Zolendz.

What elements do you focus on to create the perfect blurb? 

I actually think:  “What would make me want to read this book?”  I search for the hook that would drag a nonreader into wanting to read it.

Carol Ann markets herself under the moniker the Blurb Bitch, but she wasn’t bitchy at all. She was very professional and easy to work with. She gave me a sample and I liked it so much that I asked her to do all FOUR of my books.

Carol Ann is also a writer under several pen names. Why did you choose to go with separate pen names, and what would you tell readers who are interested in finding you? Where should they start? 

I am going to try to tell this story as quickly as I can in easy, bullet points!

  • I wrote an erotic, raunchy, vulgar novel, SCHOOLED as Deena Bright.  It is hot!
  • I was a high school teacher. It was about a high school teacher sleeping with TWO male students–who were   OUT OF COLLEGE.
  • My school district fired me.  SO TRUE.  Look it up!
  • I hired a BADASS federal attorney and got my job back.  THE FIRST AMENDMENT ROCKS!
  • I still wanted to write, but “Deena Bright” was sick of the yucky publicity.
  • I became Angelisa Stone.  (Such a sexy name!) I wrote three books as Angelisa.
  • I also wrote a book as me, Carol Eastman, about my mom dying of Cancer.  Total tear-jerker.
  • Then, I quit my stupid teaching job after they started screwing with my schedule and all kinds of other bull crap.
  • So Deena came back. Angelisa still lives on.  And Carol is who I love being!

If anyone is interested in reading my books or chatting with me, then all of my names have Facebook accounts.  If anyone is interested in getting some blurbs rewritten, then check out my website:  www.blurbbitch.com2556555

Thank you Lily for this opportunity.  It really means a lot to me.

Now, let me say that I have re-written the blurb for my first book, No Strings Attached, at least twenty times, and published at least five versions. This book was a lot of things to me, and it was rewritten so much, it was hard for me to summarize it. In fact, the summary that I gave Carol was very very long…

Here was my last attempt, we’ll call it BC, or before Carol…

A steamy story of a woman torn between duty and desire, truth and betrayal— After a summer fling in Vegas, now Fox Thornton and Laura Todd must work together. Unfortunately, the numbers don’t add up, and all signs point to embezzlement. Fox vows to bring the thief to justice, but Laura is his main suspect. Can he follow his heart while making sure that justice is served?

And this is what she gave me…

There’s a fine line between truth and deception.

When Laura Todd discovers that her new boss is Fox Thornton, the sexy, blue-eyed man that she wowed in Las Vegas, she realizes that there’s more at stake than a “no strings attached” fling. After all, strings can weave a tangled web of deceit and betrayal. Fox knows how crafty and clever Laura is, but he was hired to find out why her company is losing money. He can’t deny that all evidence points to Laura. Fox’s reputation as a fixer is on the line, and he vows to find the truth–even if it means taking down the one woman he’s wanted all along.

I fell in love all over again! So, authors, if you’re struggling, get in touch with Carol. I mean it. She’s a gem, and she’s reasonable.

Writer Wednesday – Meet Irene Vartanoff

It’s been a while, but today I’d like to welcome Irene Vartanoff to the Writer Wednesday feature on my blog. Take it away Irene!!

Captive of the Cattle Baron

Blurb:Captive of the Cattle Baron by Irene Vartanoff

He’d Abducted Her!

Abducted by rancher Baron Selkirk—okay, it was an accident, but now he won’t let her go—former TV child star turned horse whisperer Addie Jelleff enjoys a respite from the media circus that ruined her quiet retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but she’s due back to town to defend her actor pal at his trial very soon. Baron’s vast, isolated ranch is only one of his many attractions, but he’s awfully domineering and she can’t possibly give in to their growing attraction while she’s virtually his prisoner, can she?

Baron sees the situation differently. He wants to save Addie from he thinks is a sordid drug connection. Forced to drop his geology career and take over the family ranch, he’s frustrated by too many people saying no to him. Isn’t he in charge? Why is Addie so mysterious about her past and her commitments to another man? Why won’t she give in to Baron, when every time they touch, they catch fire?

It’s a battle of wills—with neither one backing down. Addie can tame the wildest stallion, but restraining her own growing attraction to the high-handed rancher and keeping him from breaking through her defenses requires all her strength—and some help from unexpected sources.

Now that you’ve heard what the book is about, let’s hear from Irene.

How did you get the idea for the beginning part of this novel?

Diana Palmer once did a story about a country guy who didn’t want to be involved with a glamour girl from the city. That rejection of the glamour life was key to my initial thinking about Captive of the Cattle Baron. I thought, “What if some glamorous woman hid out from the media in some rancher’s car? And then he got the wrong idea about what kind of person she was?”

That was the start, but then I had to build my heroine as someone who had glamour but did not want to lead the in-the-spotlight Hollywood life. She couldn’t have a believable happy ever after on a ranch if she had constant commitments elsewhere. That’s when I started thinking that my heroine could be famous but not want to be anywhere near the fast lane. From there, making Addie a former TV actor who had spent years while a child on a sitcom was the next logical step to keep her as normal a person as possible.

Tell us a little bit about the setting. How did you choose Wyoming?

I chose Wyoming as the setting because I went there once on a car trip with my mother and sister. My mother had driven the west with her dad when she was a mere kid and most of the roads were single-lane dirt—and mud. She thought nothing of piling us into her car decades later and taking off on modern paved interstates, although without motel reservations, cell phones, or solid plans. After visiting Yellowstone National Park, we came down from the Grand Tetons into Jackson Hole and it was just so beautiful there I’ve always wanted to go back. So far, I haven’t. I did read up on the state and talk to a geologist who knows the rock formations in the southern part. I believe my descriptions of Wyoming’s geography and plant life are accurate. As to the hotel and the mention of a casino in Jackson Hole, I made those up entirely. I made up the overly ambitious, glory-seeking district attorney, too.

What is your favorite thing about your female character?

What I like about Addie Jelleff is that although most people think of actors as volatile personalities, she is a very logical and sensible person. She spent her childhood doing a weekly television show and adhering to legal work rules and having to memorize her scripts, and do schoolwork, and so on. She still thinks the rest of the world is run logically, the way the TV show was. She can’t quite understand how illogical and irrational real people can be in the grip of emotion. Including herself.

What is your favorite thing about your male character?

My favorite thing about Baron Selkirk is that he’s got the instincts of a hero. He wants to save Addie. He’s not the alpha pig his emotions keep pushing him to be, although he does make mistakes. He thinks he has to be the big tough boss, and he feels a huge sense of responsibility to do right by running the family ranch, but it’s a massive burden on his shoulders, a burden he’s carrying alone. His parents have checked out. His brother has his own problems, and his sister is acting up. No wonder he’s trying to control his world and everyone in it. Especially Addie, to whom he’s tremendously attracted and whom he desperately wants to save from what he believes is a sordid life situation. Unlike a genuinely abusive man, Baron’s motives are pure. Sometimes his actions are over the line, though. After all, abducting someone is a crime!

Baron acts very domineering with Addie, but she gives as good as she gets. She is never intimidated by him. In more than one scene, she’s the one who starts the fight. She also has a lot more control over her sexuality than he has over his. Well, he’s a guy. What do you expect?

Are other books planned in this series?

As I was writing this story and fleshing out the circumstances that make Baron behave as he does, I realized that by giving him a wounded warrior brother and a nearly off-the-rails sister, I was opening the door to sequels. Who wouldn’t want to know if J.D. will ever get out of the V.A. hospital and attempt to resume a normal life? How can an outdoors type cope with serious permanent injury and still lead that kind of existence? Did being in war change him drastically? What about Paula’s so far hopeless love for him? She’s rich, but mere money can’t solve his problems. And poor Tess, who thinks she wants to be a movie star. How will she ever find fulfillment? This family has big problems to solve, and it won’t be easy. Readers will have to tell me whose story they want to read next.

Excerpt

Baron Selkirk watched the beautiful blonde weave a meandering path until she turned a corner and drifted out of sight. Only then could he breathe again. The hot blood pounding in his veins finally began to cool off. He allowed the elevator doors to close.

He punched the Door Open button. As the metal walls parted, he lunged between them. He charged down the hotel corridor. Sure enough, once he’d turned the corner, he found her leaning against the wall, half-fainting.

“You’re ill,” he said. “I’ll call the desk for a doctor.”

Her eyes widened at his words.

“No, don’t,” she said. “Don’t call anyone.”

Was that fear in her expression? What was she afraid of?

“I’m not leaving you alone here to keel over,” he said. Although he wasn’t touching her, he stood close enough to catch her if she crumpled. Close enough to notice that her blue eyes were very dilated.

She half-lifted one arm and pointed down the hall to double doors. “Help me to that suite?”

“Lean on me,” he said, putting an arm around her soft shoulders. The moment he touched her, a thrill shot through his body. He willed himself to concentrate on getting her to safety.

When they reached the double doors, she disentangled herself and rested against the doorframe. “Thank you. I’ll be all right from here.”

He frowned. “Where’s your key?”

She shook her head. “It’s not my suite.” She knocked softly on the wood.

Baron spotted a doorbell and reached over to jab it. He kept his finger on the bell until he heard someone approach the door.

“Who is it?” a muffled voice asked.

“It’s me,” the blonde said.

The person inside must have used the peephole, for his next words were, “I can see you’re not alone. Who’s he?”

She glanced up at Baron. “A hotel guest. I’ve been feeling weird. He helped me here.”

“Make him leave.”

She shrugged. “Thanks for your help,” she said to Baron, “but you’d better go now.”

He got it. The door wouldn’t be opened until he left. “Are you sure you want to do this?” He angled his eyes at the door, indicating his doubts about who and what awaited her inside.

“I’ll be okay,” she said. “Thank you.”

Baron didn’t move. This was wrong.

“Please,” she said.

He tipped his hat. “Your call. Have a nice life.”

Her sudden look of dismay almost made him refuse to budge, but he turned and walked to the elevator, forcing himself to not look back. Once he was a few steps away, he heard the suite door open and muffled words. At the corner, he looked behind him. She was gone.

***

Bio

Irene Vartanoff

Award-winning author Irene Vartanoff started reading romances and comic books as a teenager. Emilie Loring and Superman were her gateway drugs, which led to the serious stuff, Gothic novels and Lois Lane comics—and romance comics. Writing comic books and working on staff at Marvel Comics and DC Comics absorbed her early career years, aspects of which are gently spoofed in her superhero adventure novel, Temporary Superheroine. Editing for major publishers of romance Harlequin, Bantam, and Berkley inspired her next career shift to writing novels. Captive of the Cattle Baron is her first sweet contemporary romance. Visit the author at www.irenevartanoff.com.

A Note From Lily

I don’t always had time to read the books that I present on Writer Wednesday, but in this case, I just finished it, and I highly recommend it. Despite the captive/abduction theme, it’s not heavy on sex or BDSM. I found it a sweet read with a lot of sizzle.

Plotting Versus Pantsing

or Why (my) Novels Take so Long to Write!!

Anywhere novelists gather, you’re sure to find a discussion of plotting versus pantsing. Do you write a detailed plot in advance, or do you wing it? There are shades along each spectrum, from pages and pages of outlines to the plot summarized on a cocktail napkin.

I have a general idea of the plot, including major turning points, but then I wing it. Here’s a better explanation.

For the Win City Lights Book Three__200x300I don’t write short stories, but if I did, envision a trip from Greenville, SC to Atlanta, GA. About 150 miles, or 233 kilometers. Having lived near both cities, I’ve done that drive. It’s fairly easy, without a lot of issues. If you set your GPS, or your phone’s map app, you might find it says it will take you two hours and thirteen minutes with no stops. That’s reasonable. If you choose to stop off halfway at the outlet malls in Commerce, that’s your choice, but it doesn’t change the drive time. You will just get there later. You arrive, short story done, crank out a few edits, and that’s that.

Some writing websites meant to encourage writers try to throw math into the equation. If you sit down and write ten pages a night, you will have three hundred pages in a month. That’s the premise behind National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO) in November of each year. Thousands of people are determined to write a novel in a month, and they try to churn out fifty thousand words, no editing, and call it a novel. Some of my writer friends who don’t have day jobs or kids can do that, and their work is still good. I am not that writer.

For the Win, around 105 pages printed, about 39,000 words, took me from August to April, nine months. That was a record time. Its companion, Breaking Even, has 40,000 words and I’m not done with edits. The grand finale, Winner Take All, has about 30,000 words and there are major holes. While I’m not working on them both at the same time, I had to nail some issues down before I could finish Breaking Even.

Right now I’m doing first edits, where I review the book chapter by chapter and send it to my editor. I’m halfway done with that. Ric and Lindsey are living in separate places during a good bit of this book, which makes the writing of a romance difficult. They are also an odd couple, especially considering how they came together.

Going back to my GPS metaphor, things happen during the first round of edits that you wouldn’t expect. If you are traveling from Atlanta to New York City by car, all sorts of things could happen. It’s 880 miles, or 1416 km. One online calculator says 13 hours two minutes. (Two minutes? Really?) Flat tire. Bad traffic. Road construction. Interesting sights that cause delays. Most people would split this trip into two days, so that adds to the time, including meals, bathroom stops…

The same thing happens when writing a novel. Real life gets in the way. Even with a first draft done, for me, things can happen during the first edit. A scene that sounded like a good idea suddenly reads flat. Or when you read it, you think Why on earth would this character do that? Or you left a hole with a note – fill this in with x, but suddenly x is the last thing you can fit there because of some other change. Or you read a scene, realize there’s no point to this particular interaction, and start cutting. This is when the GPS notices you’ve changed routes and you hear that dreaded computer voice Recalculating.

For my fans who want to know when the book will be out, I have committed to a release date of September 7. I’m hoping I can get these characters to stop arguing long enough to finish edits on Breaking Even earlier. If edits are done sooner, I will release it sooner, but I don’t want to rush it and have a bunch of errors either.

If you want to know an exact date, well, all I can say is Recalculating.

 

News:

Check out my new Pinterest board over at https://www.pinterest.com/MissLilyBishop/

I have just started using this to post inspiration and research ideas for my books, particularly with furnishings and that sort of thing.

 

If you are an author, how do you feel about pantsing versus plotting? If you are a reader, would you rather see fewer, longer works, or more frequent and shorter?

Art Imitating Life

Every writer gets asked this question from time to time, and it comes in different forms. How do you come up with all those stories? Where do you get your ideas?

For my embezzlement plot arc, I studied different cases online, looking at some of the techniques and Ponzi schemes that have been prosecuted lately. I’ve worked in offices for most of my adult life, and some of that is drawn from events I’ve seen.

Some of book three is taking place in Venezuela, and there were actually some big international crime rings busted from Venezuela, so I’m looking at some of that for inspiration.

There is one scene in No Strings Attached that was ripped from the headlines of my life, and that’s when an employee is let go near the end of the book. This particular employee is eating a muffin while she is being terminated, and its’ sticky, and she doesn’t know what to do with her hands. Awkward. I thought so.

Chocolate.jpg

“Chocolate” by André Karwath aka Aka – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

Because it happened to me. I was in a terrible job, looking for another one, but nothing was panning out yet. I went to work every day telling my husband that I might quit soon. The kids were young, 3 and 4, and if I pulled them out of their preschool they would lose their slots. If I wasn’t working I couldn’t pay the preschool tuition. It was a Catch-22, so I had held on, looking but not ready to let go of the job that I had.

Right before Christmas, my boss’s boss called me into his office.  I had been there almost three months, and it was a bad fit. I knew it. They knew it. No one had made a move.

We had been working on a document all morning, and I thought he had more changes. I walked in his office carrying a gourmet chocolate bar imported from Greece that one of the drivers had given everyone in the office. The bar was a milk chocolate bar that was firm enough to eat, but still left chocolate all over everything. He proceeded to let me go – gently – right before Christmas. I had the presence of mind to ask for severance and got paid through the end of February. I had a new job by then, and all was right in the world. Seven years later, I’m still in the same job, and still love it, but I will never forget that moment of shock. My husband had tried to warn me, but I thought they didn’t have the guts to do it.

So, there you have it. I don’t usually use things that happen to me in my fiction, but in this case, I couldn’t pass it up.

Sometimes things happen in real life that are way too strange for fiction.

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When Characters Go Rogue: Meet Lindsey

You know Lindsey Todd as the younger sister of Laura. At the end of the first book, she is enrolling at Clemson University in Mathematics. At the end of the second book, she is still visiting with Ric Salzana-Toledo on his island paradise, enjoying a bit of a break before she goes back to school for her final semester.

Laura thinks her sister is a genius who must be protected at all cost.IMG_0396

Elizabeth just met her, but she thinks the girl has a good head on her shoulders.

Fox and Lee went off on a wild-goose chase in the first book to find her, but they look at her like a kid sister.

Lindsey just wants to be left alone so she can figure things out. She doesn’t think that she has as much to offer as her sister, and she sees herself as damaged goods. She has seen things that Laura has no idea about. The only time she ever felt sexy was when she dressed in tight sequined cocktail dresses and wore a platinum blonde wig that reached her waist. We know she was on the island with Ric for several days, and we know that the kissed at the airport, but we don’t know what happened. We know that when she returned to Miami, she left with Ben, a friend from college. If she felt such a connection with Ric, why would she turn around and move in with Ben?

That is the sum of what we know right now. As I spend time getting to know Lindsey better, she’s sharing some of her secrets, and I will tell you, she’s tougher than she looks.

Right now, she’s not impressed with the Tower Suite at the Castle, and she doesn’t care about the French chef that Ric swears is the best in the Caribbean. She ignores the fancy menu handwritten on parchment and orders a burger. She mocks the fact that every time she sees him, he’s in a suit. If Ric wants to keep her attention, he will have to do it some way other than the trappings of his money.

What really happened in her first trip to Calliope? And what happened the weekend of the wedding, after the two newlywed couples left? Can she set aside the logic that rules her life and let Ric into her heart? When danger comes–and you know it will–can she trust Ric enough to believe in them through it all?

I’ve got two working titles for this one. The first, No Ordinary Man, focuses on Ric. The second idea that I have for a title, No Stone Unturned, focuses on their journey. Or it may even be a third title not dreamed of yet.

What do you think? How innocent is Lindsey? Is she too young for the sophisticated Ric? I can’t wait to get to know her better, and dig into her story.

Romance Reader Survey

There are many puzzle pieces to putting together a book, including the genre, the cover, the sex scenes… I thought I would do a quick survey. Please take the time to answer a few questions. Help me get additional people to take the survey by sharing on twitter and facebook using the buttons below.

What type of romances do you like to read? Stand-alone? Connected books

What type of covers catch your eye?

All of these and more are covered in this quick survey. I’d love to hear your opinion, and I will share the results with my fellow writers.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1Q9cT1AZAz6EeSp1hRmuxiSGqcH8fudxNMzy0q6z0ODc/viewform?usp=send_form

Thank you!  Did something in the survey strike a nerve? Feel free to tell me in the comments below.

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